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Iran’s very good week

by Caroline Glick

 

You have to hand it to the Iranians. They don’t play around. Just hours after President Donald Trump gave his speech outlining the contours of a new US policy toward Iran, senior Iranian officials were on the ground in Iraq and Syria not only humiliating the US, but altering the strategic balance in Iran’s favor.

Last Friday Trump said that from now on, the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime would be viewed in the overall context of Iran’s many forms of aggression. Iran’s support and direction of terrorism, its subversion of neighboring regimes, regional aggression, weapons proliferation, development of ballistic missiles and harassment of maritime traffic will no longer be dealt with in isolation from Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump pledged that it will henceforth be US policy to ensure that Iran is made to pay a price for all its aggressive actions, including its breaches of the nuclear deal.

Among other things, Trump singled out Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for its role in sponsoring and engaging terrorism. He came within a hair’s breadth of defining the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. But words to one side and actions to the other.

On Saturday morning, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who commands the Qods Force, responsible for the IRGC’s international terrorist operations, landed in Iraq’s Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

The Kurds have been autonomous in Iraq since 1992 and have exercised de facto sovereignty over Iraqi Kurdistan since 2003. One of their chief disputes with the central government in Baghdad was control over the oil rich city of Kirkuk, adjacent to autonomous Kurdistan. Kurds make up a large majority of the population of the city.

That dispute seemed largely settled three years ago when in the summer of 2014, Kurdish Peshmerga forces took over the oil town and other areas south of their official territory. The Kurds moved in after government forces fled Kirkuk and other areas, in the face of Islamic State’s offensive.

The Kurds played a key role in the anti-ISIS campaign.

Both in Iraq and Syria, the Kurds have been the US’s only reliable ally. Iraqi regime forces, like the Shi’ite militia that fight alongside them, are controlled by Iran.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), thought that ISIS’s defeat in Iraq and Syria was the right time to call in the US debt to the Kurds for the central role they have played in the fight to defeat ISIS.

And so on September 25, he held a referendum on Kurdish independence. Nearly 93% of Iraqi’s Kurds voted in favor.

Support for independence is so overwhelming that even the Talabani family supported the referendum.

For generations, the Barzanis and Talabanis have vied for control of Iraqi Kurdistan. And whereas the Barzanis have enjoyed longstanding warm ties with Israel and the US, for the past generation, the Talabanis have grown close to Iran.

Jalal Talabani, the head of the Talabani clan, served in the ceremonial position of Iraqi president from 2005 until 2014. He was the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK party.

Talabani, who died two weeks ago, opposed Kurdish independence.

On Saturday, flanked by the Iraqi Shi’ite militia commanders – two of whom are on the FBI wanted terrorists list – Soleimani told the Talabanis to support the restoration of Iraqi government control – that is, Iranian control – over Kirkuk.

Ala Talabani, Jalal’s niece, told an Arabic television station that Soleimani came to pay his respects to her late uncle. According to The Washington Post, Ala Talabani praised Iran’s role in Iraq and said, “Soleimani advised us that Kirkuk should return to the law and the constitution, so let us come to an understanding.”

In other words, he offered them a deal.

In an article in The American Interest, Jonathan Spyer, director of the Rubin Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said the deal was concluded the next day between one of the Shi’ite militia leaders and Bafel Talabani, Jalal’s eldest son. Based on Kurdish media accounts, Spyer wrote that the deal involves establishing “a new authority in the Halabja-Sulaymaniyah-Kirkuk area to be jointly administered by the Iraqi government and the ‘Kurds’ (or rather the PUK) for an undefined period.”

Spyer summarized, “The federal government would manage the oil wells of Kirkuk and other strategic locations in the city, while also overseeing the public-sector payroll.”

So two days after Trump’s speech, the Iranians and the Talabani family agreed to split Iraq’s Kurds in two and set up an Iranian puppet in the new governing authority, killing any thought of an independent Kurdistan.

So far, the deal has gone off without a hitch. The Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk, which are loyal to the Talabani family, abandoned their posts on Monday when the Soleimani-controlled combined force of US-armed and -trained Iraqi government forces and Shi’ite militias took over Kirkuk and other areas.

Despite Trump’s stated position in favor of weakening Iranian power and influence, and despite the fact that the occupation of Kirkuk was directed by the IRGC, which Trump just sanctioned, the Americans to date seem fine with this outcome.

According to Kurdish and US commentators, Iran or no Iran, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wouldn’t have dared to order the strike on Kirkuk without US agreement.

It’s true that the US has never gone out on a limb for its Kurdish allies. Despite the fact that 1,700 Peshmerga fighters were killed fighting – and defeating ISIS – over the past three years, and despite the fact that an independent Kurdistan would constitute a severe blow to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region, the US vocally opposed last month’s referendum. Following the vote, US officials told reporters that since Barzani ignored their position, they feel they owe him no loyalty.

And indeed, the US couldn’t be more disloyal than it is today – siding with Iran against America’s only dependable ally in Iraq.

The implications of Iran’s successful strategic offensive against the Kurds are disastrous for the US. Iran’s establishment of a Kurdish satrapy in Iraq harms the US in three ways.

First, America’s only stable Iraqi ally is now destabilized. For the past several years, the Barzanis and Talabanis had managed to more or less bury the hatchet, each content with their own sphere of influence. Now, they are once again at each other’s throats. Even if the Americans never asked them to do it, Iraq’s Kurds protected America’s interests in Iraq. And their prosperity and stability were viewed as an American achievement.

Now that is a thing of the past.

Second, Iran’s successful neutralization of the Kurds clears away the only major obstacle to Iranian hegemony over Iraq. This development has major implications for the region. If there is no safe base for operations against Iran in Iraq, any plan to block Iran’s regional rise has become far more complicated.

And finally, the US’s reputation and its strategic credibility in the region and beyond have just taken a massive hit. Until Soleimani’s forces marched into Kirkuk, it was possible to believe that the US’s recent preference for Iran over its own allies was a function of Obama’s radical worldview.

Now that Trump is in office, the policy was effectively over.

In the face of the US’s betrayal of the Kurds to the benefit of Iran, that position is no longer credible. Trump can claim till he’s blue in the face that he has abandoned Obama’s Iran policy, but so long as Iraqi government forces control Kirkuk – for Iran – his claims only discredit him.

The consequences of the US’s acceptance of Iran’s Kurdish gambit are already being felt on the ground. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Syrian Kurds, who just this week led the forces that defeated ISIS forces in Raqqa, are now concerned that the US will abandon them as well. Syrian Kurds now exercise autonomy. But with ISIS now defeated, Syrian Kurds fear the US will withdraw its forces from Syria and allow them to be overrun by Assad regime forces controlled by Iran and Hezbollah.

Luckily, not everything is black. Israel isn’t the US. But it is more powerful than the Kurds. And Israel is doing what it can to both help them and curb Iran’s expanding power. This, even as Trump seems incapable of translating his positions into policies on the ground.

The same day Iranian-backed forces were taking control of Kirkuk, Israel both destroyed a Russian- made anti-aircraft battery in Syria in retaliation for Syria’s targeting of IAF jets, and welcomed Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Israel for his first visit in office.

Israel’s willingness to attack the Syrian battery the day Shoigu arrived made clear that Russian support for its Syrian client is not unconditional.

This was brought home yet again and more powerfully the next day. On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen.

Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian military, made an official visit to Damascus.

While he was there Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk to him about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its increased presence in Syria. Netanyahu also beseeched Putin to support Kurdish independence in Iraq.

Interestingly, it was Putin’s office, not Israel, which revealed the call had taken place.

Russia’s willingness to accept Israeli air strikes in Syria and to openly work with Israel indicates that Iran may have overstepped the boundaries. It is possible that Russia is not interested in having an empowered Iranian ally. Given past Russian practice, it is likely that Russia would like to see Iran weakened and therefore more dependent on Moscow.

Then there are the Germans and British. Whereas German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May came out strongly for maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran, both leaders indicated this week that they are willing to take a stronger stand against Iranian support for terrorism, missile development and regional expansion. Netanyahu reportedly has spoken at length to both leaders, and to a host of others, in recent days lobbying them to support the anti-Iranian Kurdish regional government.

By not abandoning the Kurds and by continuing to press for the West – including the Trump administration – to support Barzani and his government, and by pushing back against Iran’s empowerment in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, Netanyahu is trying to exploit and expand Iran’s weaknesses. He does this even as Iran’s strengths become more obvious and Iran’s power rises against an America that remains strategically adrift.

Netanyahu’s actions alone will not stop Iran.

But they do make it clear that Iran’s rise is not unstoppable. There are plenty of actors with plenty of reasons to oppose Iran’s empowerment. And once they see the danger Iran poses to them, working together and separately, they can help to cut it down to size.

At some point, the Americans may come to their senses and finish off the job.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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The Calm Before the Storm

By Matt Ward

North Korea is being manipulated masterfully by Iran. Odd bedfellows though they are, Iran and North Korea are well established allies, and current events in East Asia cannot be separated from events occurring in Syria and the Middle East at the same time.

It is an open secret that Iran and North Korea have more than merely a diplomatically cordial relationship. They actively share common strategic goals, and these shared goals have brought them increasingly close together. As recently as last month, a delegation from Pyongyang, led by parliamentary speaker Kim Yong Nam, who ranks as the second most important person in the North Korean hierarchical system, spent ten days in Tehran as guests of the government. While there, the North Koreans met with the heads of the Iranian army and intelligence agencies, as well as Iranian leaders in industry. The discussions across the board, from military to industrial talks, were identical as to how they could deepen mutual cooperation across all spheres to enable both parties to meet their wider strategic goals.

On the surface, the relationship they share seems to be an odd one; Iran is a Shiite theocracy who views themselves as the only true defenders of Islam, while North Korea is a virulently atheistic regime. Neither Iran nor North Korea share commonalities ethnically; neither do they share any borders. What they do share, most importantly, is commonality in their geopolitical objectives.

In allying itself with North Korea, even though they are so diametrically opposed in all other spheres, Iran has been able to continue to develop its own regional hegemonic and nuclear ambitions. Iran is using North Korea because the relationship allows them to progress more rapidly towards fulfilling their own nuclear ambitions, and because it furthers their own dominance in the Middle East, especially in Syria. Being in a relationship with North Korea has allowed them to manipulate events in East Asia, so as to take the pressure off themselves at home.

What makes this alliance particularly robust and functional is that both Iran and North Korea are also bonded by a mutual loathing for America and Americanism. Hating America actively binds them both together.

In real terms Iranian – North Korean cooperation focuses primarily in two areas: nuclear weapons development and ballistic missile technology. This cooperation is longstanding. Michael Green, former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, relates that during nuclear talks held with the United States as long ago as March 2003, the head of the North Korean delegation confirmed that Pyongyang had a “nuclear deterrent” and threatened to “expand,” “demonstrate,” and “transfer” the deterrent unless the United States ended its hostile policy [1]. Many at the time believed this reference of “transferring” this “nuclear deterrent” was in reference to Iran.

Iran seeks North Korean cooperation in the development of its nuclear weapons program, and North Korea seeks Iranian help in developing its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems. North Korea has the bomb, and Iran has the reliable means to deliver it; so they are helping each other by swapping their “know how [2].

This is where the Presidency of Barack Obama will come back to haunt this world, sooner rather than later. Obama, towards the end of his second term, released significant funds to the Iranian regime, and loosened what had previously been a tight system of sanctions against Iran, hailing it at the time as a mark of the success of the Iranian Nuclear Accord. It was a fallacy.

Suddenly Iran, flush with cash, used the money to buy considerable amounts of weaponry from North Korea, thereby providing Pyongyang with the financial resources it so desperately needed to ignore the international sanctions that were being arrayed against it. More importantly, loosening sanctions and releasing funds to Iran indirectly allowed North Korea to continue funding its own nuclear weapons program, a program now reaching fulfillment in our own day [3,4].

Relaxing sanctions has also meant that it is exceptionally difficult for the United Nations, or other leading international agencies like the IAEA, to detect the subtle cooperation and financial transactions that have been taking place between Iran and North Korea, all which might indicate breaches of international accords or giveaway tell-tale signals indicating their own nuclear threshold status. All thanks to Barack Obama.

Iran has not been standing idly by while the world has been captivated by North Korea. Last week, on September 22nd, Iran released a film in which it claimed to have test-fired a new, highly advanced ballistic missile system. This new weapon, the Khoramshahr, is estimated to have a range that exceeds 2,000km, finally putting all of Israel well within range.

The Khoramshahr can, according to the Iranian release, carry multiple warheads, and is also – unlike other crude variations – exceptionally accurate, because it has advanced live-video guidance systems contained within its nose cone. This means that the missile could be manually guided onto a target remotely. The Khoramshahr, if the release is true, would constitute an entirely different level of threat to Israel than any that has come before.

Yet despite this obvious breach of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, sidetracked by the burgeoning crisis occurring in East Asia, it has barely even been covered by the main news media in the West. Indeed, the US military has even asserted that this launch did not take place and has immediately dropped the matter, dismissing it out of hand. But this is not the view the Israeli intelligence services and the Israeli military take; they could not disagree more with the US assessment. They believe the test was a legitimate one, and that a threshold is about to be crossed by Iran, a threshold that may force them to soon take action.

Israel is fast approaching the point where strong speeches voicing condemnation against Iranian encroachments into Syria, or about their weapons programs, are not enough. The danger to Israel is becoming too great. Very soon Iran is going to reach the point, as will North Korea, where they actually will have a reliable and deliverable nuclear weapons system. When that point is reached, Iran will become the biggest existential threat to the continued existence of Israel as a nation state since its founding in 1948.

At this point the only silver lining is Donald Trump. Unlike Obama’s misguided, and some might say negligent approach to the Iranian threat, the indications are that President Trump is about to embark upon a different approach. There is increasing speculation, fueled by the President himself, that he is about to take some form of definitive action; either by challenging the North Korean nuclear program directly or in decertifying the Iranian nuclear deal.

The world is bracing itself for what is about to come; and much of what may shortly follow is entirely unpredictable. But about one thing we can be certain: If Trump does end the Iranian Nuclear Accord or takes any direct form of action against North Korea, this really could be the calm before the storm. A real Pandora’s box may be about to be opened.

Sources:

[1] http://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/while-north-korea-and-iran-collaborate-china-covers

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/09/exclusive-north-korea-secretly-helped-iran-gain-nuclear-weapons/

[3] http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/844704/North-Korea-news-United-States-sanctions-sell-weapons-Syria-Iran-Donald-Trump-World-War-3

[4] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/14/politics/north-korea-iran-nuclear-weapons-program/index.html

 

The new Democratic Party

by Caroline Glick

 

Since 2015, Britain has been one election away from having an antisemitic prime minister backed by antisemitic voters. If current trends in the Democratic Party continue, in the not-so-distant future, the United States might be in the same position.

Two years ago, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s main opposition Labor Party. That officially put an end to Tony Blair’s alignment of the Labor Party with the political center in Britain, both in economic and in foreign affairs.

Corbyn is an antisemite. He refers to Hezbollah and Hamas – two terrorist groups that openly support the genocide of world Jewry and the annihilation of the Jewish state – as “our friends.” He has shared stages with Hamas terrorists and Holocaust- deniers. Since his ascension to leadership of the Labor Party, he has overseen the mainstreaming of antisemitic actions and rhetoric by his party members and supporters.

Shortly after Corbyn’s election, repeated, well-publicized acts of antisemitism by senior Labor Party members forced Corbyn to call for an investigation of the phenomenon. He appointed his ally Shami Chakrabarti to oversee the effort.

The Chakrabarti report – first presented at a Labor Party conference convened last June for that purpose – was not merely a whitewash. It effectively denied that it is possible to be concerned with antisemitism without being racially insensitive to other minority groups. In other words, concern for antisemitism is a form of racism in and of itself.

As for Corbyn himself, he couldn’t be clearer about his feelings. His remarks at his conference on antisemitism were antisemitic.

Corbyn insisted that it’s wrong “to assume that a Jewish friend is wealthy, part of some kind of financial or media conspiracy or takes a particular position on politics in general, or on Israel and on Palestine in particular.”

After all, not all Jews are bad, rich Jews who run the media and support Israel.

If that wasn’t enough, Corbyn then proceeded to allege that Israel is as evil as Islamic State. In his words, “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel and the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic states and organizations.”

Since then, according to Jewish Labor Party members, Corbyn has refused to take any steps to diminish the increasingly strident antisemitic rhetoric and character of his party.

This then brings us to the American Democratic Party.

Over the past week, two incidents occurred that indicate that the party of Harry Truman and Bill Clinton is becoming increasingly comfortable with blaming the Jews.

First, last Thursday, Obama loyalist and former CIA operative Valerie Plame approvingly shared a fiercely antisemitic article on her Twitter feed.

The article, “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars,” was written by Philip Giraldi, a fellow former CIA officer and outspoken Jew-hater.

Giraldi’s piece included all the classic antisemitic tropes: Jews control the media and culture; they control US foreign policy; and they compel non-Jewish dupes to fight wars for Israel, to which the treacherous Jews of America are loyal.

Giraldi recommended barring Jews from serving in government positions and participating in public debates related to the Middle East. And, he added, if an American Jewish Israel-backer refuses to recuse himself, the media should duly label him, “Jewish and an outspoken supporter of the State of Israel.”

Such a label, he contended, “would be kind of like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison.”

Plame, who ultimately issued a contrite, defensive apology for circulating Giraldi’s anti-Jewish screed, initially justified her decision to repost the article and say it was “thoughtful.”

She added, “Many neocon hawks ARE Jewish.”

And she should know.

Plame rose to fame in 2003, when she was at the center of a chain of events that led to the delegitimization of Jewish neo-conservatives in the Bush administration through a campaign of antisemitic innuendo and legal persecution.

In 2003, Plame’s husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson, published an article in The New York Times in which he falsely denied White House claims that Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium yellow cake from Niger for the purpose advancing his nuclear program.

Apparently in retaliation for his false allegations, then-deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage leaked to syndicated columnist Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife Valerie was a CIA officer. Plame was a covert operative at the time, making Armitage’s leak a crime.

The Justice Department appointed special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to oversee the investigation and prosecute the leak. Fitzgerald knew almost from the outset that Armitage was the source of the leak.

Yet he failed to prosecute him.

Instead, Fitzgerald went on a fishing expedition to root out then-vice president Richard Cheney’s Jewish chief of staff Scooter Libby. After a multiyear investigation, Libby, who did not leak Plame’s identity, was indicted and convicted on a specious count of perjury.

The effect of Libby’s indictment, prosecution and conviction was to place all his fellow Jews in the Bush national security team under constant and deeply antisemitic scrutiny. This defamation of Jewish American security experts in many ways paved the way for Barack Obama’s wholesale use of antisemitic undertones to defend his nuclear deal with Iran.

As Omri Ceren from the Israel Project recalled in a long series of Twitter posts after Plame circulated Giraldi’s article, Obama and his advisers repeatedly argued that “lobbyists” and Israel were seeking to convince lawmakers not to act in the US’s best interest. Instead they tried to manipulate senators into defending Israel and oppose Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, to the detriment of America. These exhortations, made repeatedly by Obama and his surrogates were then expanded upon and made explicit by their political allies in places like the Ploughshares Foundation, which served as focal points of Obama’s media campaign on behalf of the Iran nuclear deal.

Until she resigned on Sunday, Plame served on the Ploughshares board of directors.

Plame’s wing of the Democratic Party is not explicitly antisemitic. Obama never said, “Jews are undermining US national security.” Instead, he attacked Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He attacked “lobbyists” and foreign interests.

Plame’s mistake last week was that, in tweeting a link to Giraldi’s article, she moved beyond Obama’s dog-whistle approach.

In a way, she can be excused for crossing the line, because the rising force in her party has little problem openly trucking in Jew-hatred.

That force, of course is the Bernie Sanders radical leftist wing of the party.

Around the same time that Plame was tweeting her way into ill-repute, Iran was showing off a medium- range ballistic missile capable of hitting Israel and Europe and Sanders was giving a foreign policy speech in Missouri.

Israel was a key focus for Sanders, who is now in charge of the Democratic Party’s outreach efforts.

Sanders said the US is “complicit” with Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria and Gaza. He said that he would consider cutting off US military aid to Israel. He argued the US should take a more evenhanded approach to Israel.

No similar statements have ever been made by any major presidential contender or political leader in either party.

And yet, they have raised no outcry among his fellow Democrats.

Sanders’s rise has unleashed forces in the party such as former Nation of Islam spokesman Rep.

Keith Ellison and BDS activist Linda Sarsour. Both have been outspoken in their antisemitism. Both routinely defame and delegitimize American Jews who support Israel. And both are all but unanimously embraced as leaders by their partisan colleagues.

Since Donald Trump’s election, most of the media coverage of US politics has centered on cleavages within the Republican Party. But while it is true that the Republican Party is dysfunctional, the Democratic Party is transforming into something never before seen in mainstream US politics.

In 2016, the party of Bill Clinton ceased to be the party of the working class. Hillary Clinton abandoned her husband’s Rust Belt base, referring to his voters as “deplorables.”

Today, the two predominant branches of the party are the Obama branch – which is comfortable with antisemitic dog whistles – and the Sanders branch, which is comfortable with Corbyn-style Jew-baiting and open discrimination of pro-Israel Jews.

Absent a major restructuring of the party’s makeup, Plame’s forced resignation from Ploughshares may be remembered as the high-water mark in the new Democratic Party’s efforts to root out antisemitism from its ranks.TwitterGoogle+PinterestEmailSumoMe

Why Did God Choose Little Egypt?

By Daymond Duck

On Aug. 21, 2017, there was a total solar eclipse over the U.S. and because God used darkness to warn Pharaoh to repent and to let His people go (Ex. 10:21-29), some Jewish Rabbis believe the eclipse was a warning to the U.S. for its citizens to repent of their sins.

The eclipse reached its maximum coverage of the sun over the U.S. in an area of southern Illinois called “Little Egypt.” That area is called “Little Egypt” partly because it has a river system that is much like the Nile Valley in Egypt.

Egypt subjected the children of Israel to slavery. And during the Civil War, there was illegal slavery in southern Illinois.

Several cities (Karnak, Cairo and Thebes) and some businesses (King Tut’s Gas Station) in “Little Egypt” have Egyptian names.

A second total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. on Apr. 8, 2024. It will also reach its maximum coverage of the sun over “Little Egypt.”

This brings up a question: Why did God choose “Little Egypt” to receive the first dose of maximum darkness and why did He choose it to receive a second dose about seven years from now?

If darkness in Egypt was a warning to Pharaoh to repent, is darkness in “Little Egypt” a warning to the U.S. for its citizens to repent?

Without question, repentance is needed and it is a good thing. But some question any connection between the eclipse and repentance in the U.S. so I suggest that we look at some interesting facts.

Just know that God loves people, but He loves their souls more. Know that God brings good out of everything and He uses problems to draw people to Him before they perish or have even greater problems.

Know that more people in Texas, Louisiana and Florida have probably talked to God longer and harder since the eclipse than they did before. Know that many have a greater understanding of the power of God. Know that many now realize that they were taking God and their blessings for granted.

Many people are suffering and they will suffer more, but if just one person got saved that soul is worth more than all the property damage that occurred.

The eclipse didn’t last three days, but three days after the eclipse tropical storm Harvey became a hurricane. It struck the Texas Coast a few hours later.

The first Plague in Egypt was water turned into blood, dead fish, stinking and unsanitary water (Ex. 7:14-25). During the flooding in Texas and Louisiana, raw sewage and chemicals got into the water. In some places, strong contamination caused the water to stink and receding water left behind dead fish and animals that quickly started to stink.

The third Plague in Egypt was lice (The root word means gnats or mosquitoes).

Health officials in Texas and Louisiana warned that stagnant water will provide millions of places for mosquitoes to breed. They called for aerial spraying to control mosquitoes that spread diseases (Zika, Cholera, etc.).

The fifth plague in Egypt was the death of the cattle, horses, camels, donkeys and sheep (Ex. 9:1-7). Hurricane Harvey killed many animals.

The seventh Plague in Egypt was hail (Ex. 9:13-35). God said hail would fall unlike anything that has ever happened before or anything that will ever happen again. Some did not believe God’s warning because Egypt is a very dry country with less than one inch of rain per year.

Because of the warm temperatures, Florida rarely gets hail, but it does happen. In fact, on Sept. 10, 2017, it was reported that hail had fallen in Tampa and Miami during hurricane Irma.

The ninth Plague in Egypt was darkness (Ex. 10:21-29). Although it was a different matter, the Dept. of Homeland Security said at its peak on Sept. 11, 2017, about 15 million Floridians were without electricity. Three-fourths of the state was in darkness. In an amazing turn around, the electricity (and light) was restored to about 10 million homes in just 2 days.

The tenth Plague in Egypt was the death of the first-born son and animals (Ex. 11:1-12:30). Following the death of multitudes, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron by night. He ordered the Jews to leave Egypt. “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (Ex. 12:33).

As Hurricane Irma approached, everyone that could was urged to leave Florida. The roads were jammed.

When the Israelites left Israel, Pharaoh pursued them (Ex. 14:1-31). Pharaoh thought he had them trapped against the Red Sea. The Israelites were afraid, but Moses said, “The Lord shall fight for you.” God told Moses to lift his rod and stretch it over the Red Sea and divide it. Moses did and God sent a strong east wind that made the waters go back so that the Israelites could cross on dry ground.

Many skeptics deny that this happened. Some suggest the Jews crossed in shallow water, an earthquake or a landslide dried up the water, etc.

The Bible says the Lord did it. And many conservative theologians and preachers accept it as a historical fact. Some things in the Bible may not make sense to us.

But it is wrong to question the Bible.

At Tampa Bay, Florida, strong winds from the northeast blew the water out of the Bay. People walked on land that is usually under water. It proves that God could send a strong east wind to divide the Red Sea and let the Jews cross on dry ground if He wanted to (Ex. 14:21-22). A similar event also happened in the Bahamas.

Also, at Tampa Bay, two Manatees got stranded on dry ground because the water receded so fast. People put the Manatees on tarps and drug them 100 yds. back to the water.

There are other fascinating things:

One, the rod of Moses turned into a snake (Ex. 7:8-12) and there were snakes in the flood waters in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

Two, the children of Israel complained about their need for drinking water on at least two different occasions (Ex. 17:1-7; Num. 20:9-12) and some of the flood victims complained about a lack of water.

Three, hurricane Jose looked like it was going to strike the Caribbean, but it turned away and wandered around in the southwest Atlantic for several days; and the children of Israel looked like they were going to enter the Promised Land, but they turned away and wandered around in the wilderness for forty years.

Even though the citizens of Florida were urged to evacuate, some decided to stay and have a “hurricane party.” Menu favorites included cold beer and hot wings. Some lifted their drinks in the air and shouted, “Happy Hurricane.”

Concerning His return, Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Did God choose “Little Egypt” to remind the U.S. that He sent Ten Plagues on Egypt?

Did God choose “Little Egypt” to remind the U.S. we have been taking our blessings for granted and He can take them away anytime He wants to do it?

Did God choose “Little Egypt” to remind the U.S. that He is in control and no nation has enough wealth, weapons or whatever to resist Him?

Has God sent or allowed birth pang like disasters (increasing in frequency and strength) to remind the U.S. of an important sign of our Lord’s return?

Understand that as bad as it was, the flooding in Texas, Louisiana and Florida was a little puddle compared to the great Flood in Noah’s day and what our nation has gone through is nothing compared to what will happen in the Tribulation period.

Or maybe the writer is looking for the wrong meaning. It maybe that God is saying it’s time for Jews living in the USA to leave for the Promised Land.

Gut Instinct :: By Matt Ward

On March 8, 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in a speech to the National Association of evangelicals in Orlando, Florida referred to the Soviet Union for the first time as the “Evil empire.” In his developing “roll back” strategy against the encroachments of communism, Reagan openly called for the West to begin the process of “writing the final pages of the history of the Soviet Union.”

These comments unsettled many in Moscow, and caused abject terror throughout the Soviet military. Yuri Andropov, the ailing Soviet leader, was already by this point utterly convinced that the Unites States of America was planning to launch an imminent and massive preemptive strike on the Soviet Union. The aim of the U.S. strike, so Andropov thought, was to bring the Soviets down to their knees and therefore secure the West’s hegemony in what the West believed was an approaching post-communist new world order.

It was something Andropov was determined, at all costs, to either avoid or react effectively to. He had resolved that when this U.S. first strike did come, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction would mean that there would be nothing left of America to survive what he saw as such an impetuous attack.

The Soviet military therefore acted accordingly, and began to enshrine a belief in a “U.S. preemptive first strike” as standard and accepted Soviet military thinking of the time. In 1983, the Soviets did not believe it was a question of “if” the U.S. would attack, but “when.”

So, on the morning of September 26, 1983, Lt. Col Stanislav Petrov took his seat as Commander of the top secret Soviet military command center, located just outside of Moscow. It was to be a day he would never forget. Only a small handful of men since the dawn of time can genuinely lay a claim to having affected the course of human history, Lt. Col Stanislav Petrov can certainly make such a claim. Petrov’s cool head single handedly saved the whole world from certain annihilation that late September morning.

At age 44, Petrov’s job was simple—he was to monitor the Soviet Union’s early warning satellites and act accordingly in the event of a hostile United States launch. He was doing just that when his radar screens showed that five Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles had been launched by the U.S. and were racing towards the Soviet Union.

All his training and all Red Army protocol demanded that he act in a very defined and specific way – pick up the telephone and order an immediate and full nuclear counter strike against the United States. But he didn’t. Petrov did not order the counter strike because his “gut instinct” told him that the warnings were a hoax, a malfunction of some sort, a glitch. So, for twenty minutes he waited, and sweated. He waited to see if he was correct. Holding out against the most enormous pressure, Petrov refused categorically to initiate the Soviets retaliatory launch protocols and thereby trigger a certain nuclear Armageddon. Twenty-five minutes later, when the bombs did not start to fall, he realized at last, that he was right.

It later emerged that the false alarm was the result of a Soviet satellite mistaking the reflection of the sun’s rays off the tops of clouds for a missile launch. The world had a lucky escape that day; another morning with another man or woman in charge and human history could have been irrevocably different.

This past week at the United Nations, President Donald Trump gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency so far. Using the most unequivocal and direct language, President Trump addressed the burgeoning issue of North Korea head on, and in the clearest language possible threatened to “…totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump is right in making such a public statement. It is necessary to be absolutely unequivocal in a time such as this. At this point it seems obvious that Kim Jong Un wants to acquire nuclear weapons so badly, and achieve the ability to hit the United States with them so much, that sanctions, threats and other types of economic incentives will no longer work.

Pyongyang is not going to abandon its goal of achieving a deliverable nuclear weapons system. As a result, short of direct intervention, North Korea will get deliverable nuclear weapons soon. A North Korean nuke is practically a forgone conclusion at this point. North Korea, Japan, the South Korean’s and the world need to know where Trump and America stand.

Now they do, and it couldn’t be more clear.

Yet huge danger lays just up ahead. This North Korean nuclear device will pose at least three significant problems for the United States and her allies. The most immediate threat is also the most obvious one; that North Korea may try to use this device against the United States of America directly. This is perhaps the most unlikely outcome of the three, at least at this point.

The other two consequences for the West are much more understated and subtle, yet no less dangerous for it. The immediate victim of a viable North Korean weapon will be the alliance system that currently exists in East Asia. The day that sees North Korea get a deliverable nuke, will be the same day that U.S. influence in the region begins to plummet.

South Korea and Japan depend exclusively on the United States for their own security, and currently sit underneath the U.S. nuclear umbrella. This is the reason Japan and North Korea have not, up until this point, sought their own nuclear arsenal. As a North Korean nuclear weapon becomes a present day reality, this will increasingly lead others to question the credibility of the United States’ own commitment to defend Japan and South Korea.

Would the U.S. really launch a full retaliatory nuclear strike against North Korea, risking their own cities and millions of their own citizens lives, to defend Japan or South Korea? Would the United States risk New York in order to save Seoul? Japan and South Korea are not sure, and neither is Kim Jong-un.

It is this “de-coupling” of the U.S. alliance system, and the decline of US influence in East Asia, that would be the first significant victim of a viable North Korean nuclear weapon. It was this exact same fear that led Britain and France during the Cold War to seek their own independent nuclear arsenals, rather than to rely exclusively on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and the promise of future U.S. retaliation should the Soviet Union invade or attack western Europe.

It is likely, therefore, that a North Korean nuclear weapon would also see the beginnings of a general and widespread East Asian nuclear arms race. This nuclear arms race, in turn, leads us into the third significant danger posed by a North Korean weapon.

There is a significant danger that at some point in the future, because relations are so poor and distrust is so prevalent, that Japan, South Korea or the United States through human error or by design, might become locked into a cycle of mutual military escalation that would inevitably end in a nuclear exchange. This is perhaps the greatest danger the world will face in the event of fully nuclear North Korea.

It is highly likely that once North Korea has a viable weapon that they will act much more recklessly towards South Korea or Japan, with non-nuclear conventional weaponry. In North Korean minds it would be unlikely that the United States would intervene in a regional conflict between themselves and Japan or South Korea, as they would at that point have the ability to counter the United States at a nuclear level.

Consider any one the most recent provocative actions by North Korea against the South or against Japan, including firing ICMB’s over the sovereign territory of another independent nation, any of which could spark a rapid escalation. This escalation cycle would be very hard, or even impossible to stop or escape from.

The most pertinent question now is exactly how will nuclear weapons affect the behavior of North Korea on the international stage? Nobody knows for sure, but the unspoken fear is that a nuclear weapon would lead North Korea to act more provocatively, especially towards their most immediate neighbors and empower them to take bigger risks. It is how we handle just such lower-level provocations that will shape the future of East Asia and even the world.

Currently, the United States and the West lack any type of real understanding with North Korea in the way we had with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The doors, on both sides, are firmly shut and they are locked. There is no communication or last lines of communication to be used in a crisis. There is, therefore, no margin at all for error.

On its current course, North Korea will acquire a viable and deliverable nuclear weapon soon. Equally, at some point in the near future it is almost certain that North Korea will probe and provoke Japan, South Korea or the United States again, especially when emboldened by a nuclear status they genuinely believe will give them parity with the United States of America.

When that provocation does come, one hopes there will be men and women with cool heads and sound minds, like that demonstrated by Lt Col Stanislav Petrov in 1983, men and women who will pull us all back from the brink. My gut reaction though tells me that this will probably not be the case. East Asia and the world, are about to become much more dangerous places.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8).

HAMAS BOASTS ARE PROOF OF IRANIAN VIOLATIONS!   

 
US Ambassador to the United Nations – Nikki Haley

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US Ambassador to the UN says Hamas statements of receiving weapons from Iran show Iran is violating UN resolutions banning weapons exports.
The United States last week described remarks by a Hamas leader boasting of strong military ties with Iran as a “stunning admission” that showed Tehran was violating a UN ban on arms exports.
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Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar, who heads the Islamist terrorist movement in Gaza, told reporters on Monday that Iran was the “biggest supporter” of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
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“The Iranian military support to Hamas and al-Qassam is strategic,” said Sinwar, adding that ties with Iran had “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”
In a statement, the US mission to the United Nations recalled that Iran is barred from exporting weapons under a key UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
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“Once again, Iran is showing its true colors,” said US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
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Iran must abide by UN resolutions or decide “whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement,” she added.
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“It’s long past time for the international community to hold Iran to the same standard that all countries who actually value peace and security are held to.”
A strong supporter of Israel, Haley has repeatedly criticized Iran at the United Nations and cast doubt over its commitment to the nuclear deal.
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The United States considers Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, a terrorist organization.
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Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 and received Iranian financial and military support for years, but the movement had distanced itself from Iran over Tehran’s strong backing of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
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Sinwar, however, has sought to rebuild relations, sending a high-level delegation to meet Iranian officials.
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TWO KINDS OF HATE
by chief Rabbi Lord Sacks

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It is by any standard a strange, almost incomprehensible law. Here it is in the form it appears in this week’s parsha:

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Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under the heaven. Do not forget. (Deut. 25:17-19)
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The Israelites had two enemies in the days of Moses: the Egyptians and the Amalekites. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. They turned them into a forced labor colony. They oppressed them. Pharaoh commanded them to drown every male Israelite child. It was attempted genocide. Yet about them, Moses commands:
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Do not despise an Egyptian, because you were strangers in his land. (Deut. 23:8)
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The Amalekites did no more than attack the Israelites once, an attack that they successfully repelled (Ex. 17:13). Yet Moses commands, “Remember.” “Do not forget.” “Blot out the name.” In Exodus the Torah says that “God shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (Ex. 17:16). Why the difference? Why did Moses tell the Israelites, in effect, to forgive the Egyptians but not the Amalekites?
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The answer is to be found as a corollary of teaching in the Mishna, Avot (5:19):
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Whenever love depends on a cause and the cause passes away, then the love passes away too. But if love does not depend on a cause then the love will never pass away. What is an example of the love which depended upon a cause? That of Amnon for Tamar. And what is an example of the love which did not depend on a cause? That of David and Jonathan.
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When love is conditional, it lasts as long as the condition lasts but no longer. Amnon loved, or rather lusted, for Tamar because she was forbidden to him. She was his half-sister. Once he had had his way with her, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” (2 Sam. 13:15). But when love is unconditional and irrational, it never ceases. In the words of Dylan Thomas: “Though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion.”
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The same applies to hate. When hate is rational, based on some fear or disapproval that – justified or not – has some logic to it, then it can be reasoned with and brought to an end. But unconditional, irrational hatred cannot be reasoned with. There is nothing one can do to address it and end it. It persists.
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That was the difference between the Amalekites and the Egyptians. The Egyptians’ hatred and fear of the Israelites was not irrational. Pharaoh said to his people:
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‘The Israelites are becoming too numerous and strong for us. We must deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving [us] from the land.’ (Ex. 1:9-10)
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The Egyptians feared the Israelites because they were numerous. They constituted a potential threat to the native population. Historians tell us that this was not groundless. Egypt had already suffered from one invasion of outsiders, the Hyksos, an Asiatic people with Canaanite names and beliefs, who took over the Nile Delta during the Second Intermediate Period of the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Eventually they were expelled from Egypt and all traces of their occupation were erased. But the memory persisted. It was not irrational for the Egyptians to fear that the Hebrews were another such population. They feared the Israelites because they were strong.
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(Note that there is a difference between “rational” and “justified”. The Egyptians’ fear was in this case certainly unjustified. The Israelites did not want to take over Egypt. To the contrary, they would have preferred to leave. Not every rational emotion is justified. It is not irrational to feel fear of flying after the report of a major air disaster, despite the fact that statistically it is more dangerous to drive a car than to be a passenger in a plane. The point is simply that rational but unjustified emotion can, in principle, be cured through reasoning.)
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Precisely the opposite was true of the Amalekites. They attacked the Israelites when they were “weary and weak”. They focused their assault on those who were “lagging behind.” Those who are weak and lagging behind pose no danger. This was irrational, groundless hate.
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With rational hate it is possible to reason. Besides, there was no reason for the Egyptians to fear the Israelites any more. They had left. They were no longer a threat. But with irrational hate it is impossible to reason. It has no cause, no logic. Therefore it may never go away. Irrational hate is as durable and persistent as irrational love. The hatred symbolized by Amalek lasts “for all generations.” All one can do is to remember and not forget, to be constantly vigilant, and to fight it whenever and wherever it appears.
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There is such a thing as rational xenophobia: fear and hate of the foreigner, the stranger, the one not like us. In the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity, it was vital to distinguish between members of your tribe and those of another tribe. There was competition for food and territory. It was not an age of liberalism and tolerance. The other tribe was likely to kill you or oust you, given the chance.
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The ancient Greeks were xenophobic, regarding all non-Greeks as barbarians. So still are many native populations. Even people as tolerant as the British and Americans were historically distrustful of immigrants, be they Jews, Irish, Italian or Puerto Rican – and for some this remains the case today. What happens, though, is that within two or three generations the newcomers acculturate and integrate. They are seen as contributing to the national economy and adding richness and variety to its culture. When an emotion like fear of immigrants is rational but unjustified, eventually it declines and disappears.
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Anti-Semitism is different from xenophobia. It is the paradigm case of irrational hatred. In the Middle Ages Jews were accused of poisoning wells, spreading the plague, and in one of the most absurd claims ever – the Blood Libel – they were suspected of killing Christian children to use their blood to make matzot for Pesach. This was self-evidently impossible, but that did not stop people believing it.
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The European Enlightenment, with its worship of science and reason, was expected to end all such hatred. Instead it gave rise to a new version of it, racial anti-Semitism. In the nineteenth century Jews were hated because they were rich and because they were poor; because they were capitalists and because they were communists; because they were exclusive and kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they were believers in an ancient, superstitious faith and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.
Anti-Semitism was the supreme irrationality of the age of reason.
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It gave rise to a new myth, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a literary forgery produced by members of the Czarist Russia secret police toward the end of the nineteenth century. It held that Jews had power over the whole of Europe – this at the time of the Russian pogroms of 1881 and the anti-Semitic May Laws of 1882, which sent some three million Jews, powerless and impoverished, into flight from Russia to the West.
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The situation in which Jews found themselves at the end of what was supposed to be the century of Enlightenment and emancipation was stated eloquently by Theodor Herzl, in 1897:
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We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us. In vain are we loyal patriots, sometimes superloyal; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to enhance the fame of our native lands in the arts and sciences, or her wealth by trade and commerce.
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In our native lands where we have lived for centuries we are still decried as aliens, often by men whose ancestors had not yet come at a time when Jewish sighs had long been heard in the country . . . If we were left in peace, but I think we shall not be left in peace.
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This was deeply shocking to Herzl. No less shocking has been the return of Anti-Semitism in parts of the world today, particularly the Middle East and even Europe, within living memory of the Holocaust. Yet the Torah intimates why. Irrational hate does not die.
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Not all hostility to Jews, or to Israel as a Jewish state, is irrational, and where it is not, it can be reasoned with. But some of it is irrational. Some of it, even today, is a repeat of the myths of the past, from the Blood Libel to the Protocols. All we can do is remember and not forget, confront it and defend ourselves against it.
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Amalek does not die. But neither does the Jewish people. Attacked so many times over the centuries, it still lives, giving testimony to the victory of the God of love over the myths and madness of hate.

Danger Signs For Israel Coming From Parts Of Trump Administration

By Ryan Mauro/Clarion Project


Israel and its supporters in the West are seeing danger signs coming from parts of the Trump Administration. Since taking office, the camp that views Israel as a liability and “root cause” of Islamic extremism has been gaining ground.
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That camp is at odds with those who view the Islamist ideology as the root cause and believes it must be defeated for there to be peace in the Middle East.
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State Dept. Report Blames Israel, Exonerates Palestinian Authority
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The biggest danger sign for America’s best ally in the Middle East came with the recent release of the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism. It blamed Israel for sparking terrorism while applauding the Palestinian Authority’s counter-extremism efforts.
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The report frames Palestinian terrorism as a response to Israeli misconduct, with no attribution to an Islamist ideology or culture with a genocidal desire to wipe Israel off the map. Palestinian terrorism is essentially presented as a form of “resistance” motivated by legitimate grievances against Israeli actions. In other words, the terrorists are misguided freedom fighters.
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The identified “continued drivers of violence” are listed as a “lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”
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The treatment of the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, was mostly positive. The report lauded its efforts in combating extremism and claimed that it had minimized the incitement of violence by Palestinian Authority officials and institutions. It went so far as to say that incitement is now “rare” and “the leadership does not generally tolerate it.”
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The State Department report undermines President Trump’s position on Israel.

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Trump yelled at Palestinian President Abbas for lying to him about the indoctrination of Palestinian children. Shortly before that meeting, Abbas had publicly stood side-by-side in Washington D.C. with Trump. Standing together, Trump said he genuinely believed Abbas was committed to peace. Abbas asserted that Palestinian children are being raised in a “culture of peace.”
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It is very unsettling that Trump fell for Abbas’ lies at all and the White House permitted Abbas to deceive the world audience watching their event. However, Trump learned the truth, publicly changed his tune, and confronted Abbas face-to-face.
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By publishing this report, the State Department is closer to Abbas’ position than its own Commander-in-Chief.
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The Conservative Review compared the State Department’s report to the one published under the Obama Administration with Secretary of State John Kerry. It found the report by Tillerson’s State Department is even more hostile to Israel than the one issued under Kerry, who furiously blasted Israel on his way out of office.
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In fact, the State Department report spends more time assigning blame for terrorism to Israel than to Qatar, a massive sponsor of terrorism and extremism. One cannot help but wonder if Tillerson’s pro-Qatar position and business ties to the Qatari regime had something to do with it.
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The report prompted one pro-Israel organization to call for the resignation of Secretary Tillerson. Rep. Pete Roskam (R-IL) wrote a letter to Tillerson pointing out the report’s errors and omissions and asking for changes.
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As of now, Tillerson has not publicly responded. He has not apologized. He has not revised the report. This is a major report that should have had his attention before publication and, if it didn’t, it should now. Blaming holdovers from the previous administration is no excuse.
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Tillerson is also said to be weighing a plan to pressure Israel to return tens of millions of dollars in military aid allocated by Congress for the Jewish state, claiming the funds violate an agreement signed during the Obama administration.
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Increasing Taxpayer Money to the Palestinian Authority
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Another danger sign is how the State Department is hoping to spend its money as it faces major budget reductions. While the State Department plans a 28% cut in foreign aid to places around the world, State is planning to increase its aid to the Palestinian Authority.
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State Department documents leaked to the media in April show it plans a 4.6% increase to the West Bank run by the terrorism-inciting Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip run by Hamas. A total of $215 million in aid is allotted for 2018.
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The Palestinian Authority uses half of the foreign aid it receives to sponsor terrorism. It is increasing its compensation for terrorists in Israeli prisons by 13% and its financial aid to families of killed terrorists by 4%. The total amount of these two allotments is $344 million.
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It remains to be seen what will actually happen with the State Department’s budget. Republican and Democratic Senators described the proposed budget as “dead on arrival.”
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Changing Positions
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In February, President Trump called on Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.” In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Trump said that Israeli settlement construction is “[not] a good thing for peace.”
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Whatever you think of the settlements, the issue here is that Trump correlated the prospects for peace with Israel ending settlement construction. But as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded, settlements are “not the core of the conflict, nor does it drive the conflict.”
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Trump’s statement indicated that the camp that sees Israel as part of the “root cause” of terrorism was advancing almost immediately after he took the oath of office. On the positive side, Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia in May did not link the problem to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a powerful omission that was overlooked by most observers.
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On June 1, the Trump Administration backtracked on his vow to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for the time being. No firm commitment to moving the embassy was made, despite Trump’s campaign promise.
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Secretary Tillerson’s influence is widely seen as being responsible for the flip-flop. In May, Tillerson set off alarm bells for friends of Israel by refusing to commit to fulfilling Trump’s campaign pledge. He said that Trump’s promise has to be weighed against the considerations of the parties involved in the peace process.
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In other words, Tillerson would rather upset Trump’s voters who he made the promise to than upset Israel’s enemies, who are also America’s enemies.
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Tillerson makes it sound as if an Arab government that genuinely gave up its genocidal ambitions would resurrect its genocidal ambitions because of where an American diplomatic facility is positioned. If that’s all it takes to trigger an Arab regime into a genocidal frenzy, then that regime was never truly interested in peace in the first place.
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State Department Appointments
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There are also danger signs in the staffing of the State Department.
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In June, Tillerson appointed Yael Lempert as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Egypt and the Maghreb. According to her bio, she was previously in the Obama Administration’s National Security Council from 2014 to May 2017, serving as the Senior Director for the Levant, Israel and Egypt and a Special Assistant to President Obama.

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This means that Tillerson’s high-level appointee served as an official involved in the tension between the U.S. and Israel that reached its peak as the Obama Administration came to an end. She also was centrally involved in the Obama Administration’s policy towards Egypt that favored the Muslim Brotherhood.
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One report quoted a former Clinton official as saying:
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“[Lempert] is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
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In December 2014, when Lempert was on the Obama Administration’s National Security Council, she met with anti-Israel activist Michael Sfard. He has been paid by the Palestinian Authority to act as an expert witness in terrorism trials in its defense. He also works in an organization that seeks to put Israeli officials and soldiers on trial for war crimes.
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Under Trump, Lempert was involved in putting pressure on Israel to suspend its settlement construction.
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Another State Department official to watch is Michael Ratney, who was Secretary of State John Kerry’s consul to Jerusalem. In March, Jordan Schachtel broke the story that Tillerson appeared to have chosen Ratney to oversee the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio.
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Ratney is currently the Special Envoy for Syria, so his reassignment either hasn’t happened yet or the administration has changed its mind. He is, however, currently involved in talks with Israel regarding Syria for the Trump Administration.
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National Security Council Appointments
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National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster was asked twice whether the Western Wall is part of Israel and he refused to answer. He replied, “That’s a policy decision.”
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The peculiar non-answer appears significant in light of how the National Security Council is being staffed as McMaster shapes the office to his liking.
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Kris Bauman was chosen in May as the top adviser on Israel for the National Security Council. Tellingly, the person he was replacing was the aforementioned Yael Lempert.
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Daniel Greenfield reviewed Bauman’s 2009 dissertation and found highly disturbing content.
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He blamed Israel and the West for failing to see “Hamas’s signals of willingness to moderate” and turning Gaza “into an open-air prison” instead of engaging Hamas. He advocated a policy that includes “Hamas in a solution,” dismissing Hamas’ oft-stated pledge to destroy Israel and kill Jews until the end of time.
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Bauman cites The Israel Lobby, a book that purports to disclose how Israel secretly manipulates the U.S. institutions of power from behind-the-scenes. He says the Israel Lobby “is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.”
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Bauman clearly depicts Israel as the aggressor and, as Greenfield points out, equates Jewish settlers in the West Bank with Palestinian terrorists.
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“It is true that one could make an analogous argument regarding Palestinian terrorism, but there is one major difference between the two. Israeli government control over settlement expansion is far greater than Palestinian Authority control over terrorism,” Bauman writes.
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He blames the peace process for failing on Israel and the West because each offer “overwhelmingly favored Israeli interests.” Prime Minister Netanyahu is blamed for “inciting Palestinian violence” and deliberately undermining the prospects for peace.
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A consistent theme appears in Bauman’s thesis: Israel is the instigator of terrorism. To defeat terrorism, stop Israel. And now he is in a strong position in the National Security Council to try to make that happen.
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Early Concern Over Secretary of Defense Mattis
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President Trump’s selection of General James Mattis as secretary of defense was widely celebrated, particularly among those who appreciated his tough stands on Islamism, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. However, comments he made regarding Israel in 2013 received renewed attention.
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Mattis seemed to express the opinion that U.S. support of Israel undermines the American military and national security.
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“I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians,” he said.
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Mattis also seemed to believe that Israeli settlement construction was a primary cause of the conflict with the Palestinians. He warned that Israel was headed towards “apatheid” if it isn’t stopped.
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“If I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid…That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country,” he said.
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The good news is that Mattis has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the Iranian regime and is eager to give them some payback for killing American soldiers for decades. His comments on the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islam show that he understands the ideological foundation of the threat.
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Conclusion
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Every administration struggles with the contentious debate over whether Israel is a liability that generates Islamic extremism or whether Islamic extremism is what generates and sustains the conflicts that Israel is in. And for some, the truth is somewhere in between.
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We are seeing this debate play out inside the Trump Administration. And the first camp is gaining ground.